AMD’s Super Chip, the Threadripper, Arrives to Rave Reviews

Aug 10, 2017

Advanced Micro Devices put its much-hyped desktop PC microprocessor, the Ryzen Threadripper, on the market on Thursday to strong reviews.

The top-end chip is billed as being faster than its predecessors and capable of speeding up the performance of the most computing-intensive programs, like those used for the creation of high-definition video files.

Such high-performance chips have typically been reserved for corporate servers and cloud data centers, and priced accordingly. Intel's Xeon Broadwell chip for servers last year sold for almost $2,000 each.

But AMD CEO Lisa Su, who has been aiming to make her company's chips more competitive at the high end of the market, thinks there is a growing demand for top-performing desktop PC chips. The Threadripper, which costs $800 to $1,000, would appeal to video gamers who want to play a graphics-intensive games and record video at the same time to upload to YouTube or live online gaming service Twitch.

The new chip would also be suited for amateur or professional videographers processing footage from 4K cameras and drones. Intel has also been attacking the market for high-performance PC chips and recently unveiled its own super chip, dubbed the Core i9 Extreme Edition.

Threadripper is one of several big bets by Su, along with new chips for servers and graphics processing, that have helped the company recover from almost going out of business a few years ago. Now with stronger products to compete with against Intel and Nvidia (nvda), AMD is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Its stock price, mired below $2 a share in February, 2016, recently hit a 10-year high of almost $16, though it has since sold off. The shares were down 5.5% to $12.12 in a weak market for tech stocks on Thursday.

On Thursday, a number of publications published reviews of AMD's new chip that compared its performance to Intel's chips. The conclusion, in general, was that AMD's chip beats Intel for many computing jobs.

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Tech news site Ars Techinca said that the Threadripper was "better than Intel in almost every way." The chip outperformed Intel's best available chips in most benchmark tests, though Intel's chips were better at a few things, particularly those that did not take advantage of the multiple cores.

AMD "has made breathtaking levels of performance more accessible than ever, and won the hearts and minds of the PC market's most vocal of communities," reviewer Mark Walton concluded. "For the last decade, the last word in desktop performance has belonged to Intel. Now it belongs to AMD."

The Threadripper got a similar rave review from PC World magazine, which said that AMD's chip "stomps and smashes punier competition."

Reviewer Gordon Mah Ung concluded AMD's chip was best for what he called "real work," explaining: "Real work means modeling, encoding, and doing five things simultaneously, because it’s work...Just four years ago, consumers paid $1,000 to get a 6-core CPU. Today, the same $1,000 gets you 16 cores. That’s something to be applauded loudly by anyone who cares about performance."

Finally, the web site ExtremeTech had a similar view in its review. "Threadripper doesn’t just compete, it often leaves Intel eating dust," reviewer Joel Hruska writes. "From Ryzen 3 to Threadripper, AMD has redefined performance at every price point, to the benefit of consumers, businesses, and pretty much everybody — except, of course, Intel."

Of course Intel (intc) isn't standing still. Its Core i9 Extreme Edition for desktop PCs will hit the market in a few months and could shake up the rankings again.

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